tamping rod

tamping rod

A straight steel rod, having a rounded tip at one end.
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Gage was a Vermont railroad worker who in 1848 survived, and, remarkably, recovered rapidly from an accident in which a heavy iron tamping rod more than 3 feet in length was driven by an explosion completely through his skull.
He was tamping down a nitroglycerine explosive to blow up a mountainside in a construction site, when the explosion went off prematurely and the tamping rod was driven through his skull.